Private investment firms are teaming up to potentially make money following major changes in college sports

TAMPA, Fla. — With college sports on the cusp of sweeping changes that could have long-term financial implications, two private investment firms have created a platform to help athletic departments find financing.

RedBird Capital and Weatherford Capital on Wednesday announced the formation of Collegiate Athletic Solutions, which seeks to capitalize on a college sports landscape facing significant turmoil.

The NCAA and its member schools are expected to vote this week on a proposed $2.77 billion settlement in an antitrust case, one that could leave schools with tighter budgets, or in some cases financial problems, for years to come.

CAS would be available to lend money and provide guidance to athletic departments in exchange for a share of future revenue.

“The paradigm shift we are seeing in the collegiate athletics ecosystem is similar to the ones we have seen with media distribution models, collective bargaining rights and premium hospitality,” said Gerry Cardinale, founder and managing partner of RedBird Capital in New York. “They are all centered around the need to create long-term growth by bridging the gap between premium (intellectual property) and optimizing revenue streams.

“CAS meets athletic departments' need for short-term capital with additional operational expertise in strategies that can improve competitiveness.”

Weatherford Capital is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, and run by brothers Will, Sam and Drew Weatherford. Drew Weatherford played at Florida State and serves on the school's board of directors.

FSU has been negotiating with another investment firm, private equity giant Sixth Street, for more than a year about a potential capital infusion for the Seminoles.

“We are in the late stages of the competitive divide between athletic departments and programs,” Weatherford said. “The impact of conference realignment, disparate media rights deals and the advent of NIL and revenue sharing are creating a wider financial gap at both the university and conference level.

“History has proven that the universities that invest adeptly in their athletic departments consistently win and outperform other institutions. Our mission at CAS is to provide athletic departments with a unique capital solution to invest where and when they need to compete at the highest level during this weak paradigm shift.

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AP college: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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